D&D 4E: Minions

I've been doing some thinking about minions in my D&D game. "Minions" are a distinct monster type in 4th Edition - they're generally low-powered monsters who hit hard with basic damage, but only have 1 hit point. Any successful attack takes them out. Now, the players can't necessarily identify which creatures are minions straight away, so there isn't the tendency you get in MMOs to take out the trash mobs first. But, provoked by Rob Donoghue's discussion of mooks, I'm still wondering if they're worthwhile, in terms of enjoyment in a fight.

Tactically, from the point of view of an intelligent opponent, it makes sense to send the minions in first. They can often hit pretty hard, considering they're cheap in terms of xp budget for an encounter, and they can sometimes absorb a few encounter or daily powers before the players get near the tougher creatures in the encounter. That's useful.

From a fun point of view, everyone likes seeing the miniatures disappear off the map; there's a sense of winnowing down the opponents, and the turnaround from "OMG there's DOZENS of them" to "HA! Five in one shot!" is nice too. But it sometimes turns the end of a fight into a long grind, as people run down on encounters and dailies, and have to stick with the at-will powers, which are rarely as interesting. So you're kind-of trading off the fun from the beginning of the fight against the end - but then there's the payoff of seeing the last mini come off the board, the traditional call of "Hhhh-EX PEE!", and the discovery of the loot.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that one of the PCs (Hadaria, Eladrin Fighter) in my D&D game is very precisely specced for close-quarters tank-and-destroy. If he can get a bunch of monsters cornered, he can essentially turn into a sort of bladed windmill, and his own AC is high enough that he doesn't get hit all that much. Minions go down in a single round, in that circumstance, and rarely get to deal damage, so it's nigh-on free xp for the party.

So I suppose, based on that, I could get far better use out of minions that use ranged weapons, in terrain that makes it hard for them to be cornered. If Hadaria has to run around the place, he'll take a lot longer to dispose of them. And then we get to see if fights set to Yakety Sax are more fun, or if there's enough enjoyment in polishing them off fast for that to be better for the game.

Posted by Drew Shiel at August 8, 2011 1:15 PM

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